Vusi ‘Khekhe’ Mathibela and co-accused Elias Skhosana and Stemer Monageng, appeared at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court for alleged extortion and intimidation of business people. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - In a turn of events, Mamelodi taxi boss Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela instructed his counsel to abandon a bail application and instead intends to lodge an urgent application with the high court to challenge the legality of his arrest.

The youthful-looking Mathibela gave the instruction to his legal team when he appeared at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court alongside Stemer Monageng, deputy chairman of the Mamelodi Long Distance Taxi Association, and Mathibela’s spokesperson Elias Skhosana, on Friday.

The men are accused of a reign of terror in which criminals intimidated Mamelodi business people and taxi operators and extorted “protection fees” from them.

In court, the men were expected to lodge a bid for bail, but during postponement talks, Mathibela raised his hand, requesting permission to address his legal representative.

After a lunchtime conversation, the announcement was made in court by Solomon Mkhabela, who said that Mathibela’s lawyer, Anneline van den Heever, would approach the high court with the urgent application on Mathibela’s behalf on Monday.

Mkhabela said Skhosana and Monageng would proceed with their bail bid on Monday.

He said the accused were business people and their businesses suffered each day they spent in police custody.

Van den Heever has been critical of the manner of Mathibela’s arrest and said she was unhappy with the sight of heavily armed policemen who surround the courtroom each time the case is being heard, and prejudice her client’s case.

She argued that the policemen, wearing balaclavas and carrying R5 assault rifles, create the perception that Mathibela is a dangerous criminal.

Her attempt to have the officers removed failed, as the court ruled they were there for the safety of all.

Three other men, allegedly involved in the extortion and intimidation, were arrested in Midrand, last Friday. They were charged with possession of unlicensed firearms and appeared in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court.

Mathibela handed himself over to the Germiston police after a warrant for his arrest was issued in Mamelodi on Tuesday.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the arrests were celebrated by the people of Mamelodi and by the Minister of Police Bheki Cele.

Mathibela is alleged to lead the group terrorising Mamelodi. Residents raised concerns with Cele, who said he would be caught.

Pretoria News